Could the iPhone be banned in the U.S.?

( - One of Apple's key suppliers could ask a U.S. trade agency to ban imports of the popular smartphone in the U.S. as a legal spat wages on.

Qualcomm, which makes chips for the iPhone is entrenched in a legal battle with Apple after Apple decided it was going to stop paying billions in licensing fees on the chips made by Qualcomm.

News of the potential ban was first reported by Bloomberg.

Qualcomm is likely to ask the International Trade Commission (which describes itself as an "independent," quasi-judicial, federal agency) to stop the iPhone --  designed by Apple in California, but made in China -- from entering the U.S. while the issue is ongoing, according to Bloomberg.

Apple claims that Qualcomm has not offered fair terms that are required for offering its patents, according to Apple CEO Timothy D. Cook.

"Anyone that has a standards-essential patent has a responsibility to offer it to everyone that would like it under what are called FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory )," Cook said on an conference call to discuss fiscal second-quarter results earlier this week. " Qualcomm has not made such an offer to Apple. And so I don't believe that a – I don't believe anyone is going to decide to enjoin the iPhone based on that. I think that there's plenty of case law around that subject, but we shall see."

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